Reinstated University of Louisville trustees approve tuition dea - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Reinstated University of Louisville trustees approve tuition deal, avoid fireworks

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Larry Benz, left, and Neville Pinto Larry Benz, left, and Neville Pinto
University of Louisville Board of Trustees, Aug. 25, 2016 University of Louisville Board of Trustees, Aug. 25, 2016

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- The newly reinstated University of Louisville Board of Trustees approved a budget and two-year tuition plan Thursday while avoiding any hint of the divisions that previously plagued the board.

The meeting, made possible by a judge's order temporarily blocking Gov. Matt Bevin's plan to create a new board, came on the same day that Bevin denounced the board members as "self-serving" for conducting business.

"They want to preen. They want to have their moment in the sun," Bevin told reporters earlier on Thursday.

Larry Benz, the chairman of the board made up entirely of appointees of former Gov. Steve Beshear, declined to respond to Bevin's criticism or to address the legal uncertainties surrounding the board's future.

The state Supreme Court is likely to decide whether Bevin had the authority to abolish the Benz-led board and appoint a new one. In the meantime, Bevin's attorneys are seeking an appellate court ruling that would place Bevin's board back in power.

The Benz-led board also has limited authority because of Bevin's refusal to fill its vacancies. The board needs two more racial minority members to comply with state law and cannot take certain actions until those members are appointed.

Still, Benz told reporters that he was "real proud" of a budget, approved unanimously on Thursday, that ratifies the university's increased tuition for the current academic year but holds tuition flat in 2017-18. The budget also creates a credit which students can earn to partially offset future tuition if they complete at least 30 hours per year.

"We believe this to be unprecedented in the state of Kentucky," Benz told reporters following the meeting. "It derails a train of escalating tuition and it is a win for our students."

Thursday's meeting was notable for its lack of fireworks. The board had become sharply over the fate of former U of L President James Ramsey -- an issue that is now resolved. Ramsey resigned on July 29 in a $690,000 deal with the Bevin-appointed board.

Ramsey remains president of the University of Louisville Foundation, however.  

Benz, who is now back on the foundation board following the judge's injunction, told reporters Friday that he does not believe Ramsey should continue as the foundation's chief executive because his presence could undermine the next president of the university. 

"I will tell you that that job (university president) is not made attractive by any predecessor continuing to work in the foundation structure," he said.

Copyright 2016 WDRB News. All rights reserved.

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